Guard Craig Sword and center Gavin Ware were notified Tuesday morning they had been named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team. “I want to give them special recognition,” said Coach Rick Ray this morning, though he’d gotten the word Monday evening that two of his pups were being recognized.
Just as Ray expected all along. “I tell you, I would have been surprised if two of our guys didn’t make it,” the coach said. Ray’s reasoning was based on much more than the fact that circumstances mandated Mississippi State give their 2012-13 freshmen a lot more minutes and responsibility than usual for rookies. Sword and Ware earned the awards on their individual merits.
Sword is the team’s leading scorer at 10.3 points on the season and 11.6 in SEC play. In fact he is having one of the ten-best scoring years for a Bulldog freshman ever. Ware is scoring 8.6 points overall with 6.4 rebounds, and his SEC numbers are 8.1 and 5.7. He is on-pace for the 7th-best rebounding year ever by a rookie here.
So Ray was satisfied, not surprised, to have a pair of his first-year Dogs recognized by the SEC. For that matter, “I think Fred Thomas probably can receive serious consideration for that honor, too. But for two of our guys to make that shows me we have a bright future here at Mississippi State. Those guys can hopefully come from being all-freshman guys to all-SEC guys in their future.”
Sword and Ware give Mississippi State a total of eleven All-SEC Freshmen since 1986, but this is only the second time a twosome from State has made the list. In 2007 Ben Hansbrough and Barry Stewart were voted All-Freshmen.
The Bulldogs were leaving campus late this morning for Nashville and the SEC Tournament. They have a 5:15 practice today at Bridgestone Arena which is open to the public. #13 seed State meets #12 seed South Carolina in a 6:30ct Wednesday first-round game.